There’s a desperate lack of ‘joined up’ thinking when it comes to providing facilities for the elderly and disabled.
Take the Amory Centre for example.
It’s fully accessible by wheelchair both at the front and back ( where’s there’s a long wheelchair friendly ramp). Inside there’s a special lift to enable wheelchair users to access the upper floors.
The parking at the back is completely different:
- There are no specific, wider spaces for wheelchair/disabled users (or at least none that I’ve seen);
- The disabled (i.e. blue badge holders) have to pay parking charges;
- The payment machine is at the bottom end of the car park and can’t be accessed from inside a car. This means that you either have to get out of your car at the bottom, pay the parking fee and then get back in the car to park, or you park first, have to go all the way to the car park entrance to pay and then all the way back to the top to get into the Amory Centre. Quite a trial for the disabled.
It is possible to pay the parking charge by phone, however there are a number of issues with this (not all just affecting the disabled):
- You have to have a mobile phone in the first place – incredible though it may seem not everyone does!
- You have to have mobile phone coverage – this is very patchy in South Molton at the best of times;
- You’ll have to know the code of the car park and how to use the service – this means getting out of your car and reading the instructions!
- Despite being perfectly capable of driving, people with certain types of disability might have difficulty using mobile phones for such a fiddly task. People with arthritis for example, or those with Parkinson’s.
Not at all well thought out and very unfriendly for disabled users.